By Rep. Barbara Dittrich
I can recall the first time I heard the repugnant rhetoric of Peter Singer, Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, over a decade ago. At that time, it seemed surreal and shocking that an educator in a position of authority would be making the case that individuals with the same diagnosis as my son should not only be aborted but should also be euthanized after birth. It was incomprehensible to me that people in America would ever agree to such outrageous acts of murdering those considered imperfect.
Yet, with increasing frequency over my years of serving the disability, chronic illness, and special needs communities, I witnessed firsthand these sorts of acts be pushed upon vulnerable parents who were trying to adjust to a new life with their precious child. There wasn’t just the public pressure from individuals who felt that abortion was the only logical action. It was also the immense pressure from the medical community, insisting that parents either abort or refrain from life-saving treatment for a child whose life doctors felt was futile.
Witnessing this misguided treatment of families angered and motivated me. Watching our culture suddenly race towards infanticide with shocking legislation in Virginia and New York made me realize that I could not sit idle in my role as a new legislator. That is why I was greatly honored to accept Senator Patrick Testin’s (R-Stevens Point) invitation to join him as an author of the Shield the Vulnerable Act as well as accept Senator Duey Stroebel’s (R-Saukville) invitation to join him as an author of AB183/SB187 which would remove Medicaid support from abortion providers.
While abortion is still legal and available in America (but not rare, as originally promised), taxpayers increasingly express their desire to neither publicly fund it nor allow it to go past 20 weeks of gestation. The macabre practice of late term abortion is even opposed by the vast majority of those who are pro-choice. The prevalence of routine and 3D ultrasound has also served to change public opinion.
As the culture changes, the disconnect between advocacy for the disabled and minorities while also promoting the termination of their lives becomes more apparent. Today the statistics are clear that more African-American babies are aborted in cities like New York than are born. We also know that abortion has reduced the Down Syndrome population in America by 30 percent in recent years.
All of this while we hear the protests of “Black Lives Matter,” and communities come together to throw special proms for Tim Tebow’s Night to Shine. If we wouldn’t discriminate after birth, we surely shouldn’t before birth.
Aside from these discriminatory practices, the public simply does not want its public health dollars going towards funding abortion. And rightly so! There are seven federally-funded health clinics for every one Planned Parenthood in our state. Those 162 clinics cover a much more comprehensive area of Wisconsin than the 22 Planned Parenthoods that are largely concentrated in Milwaukee, Madison, and Green Bay. Additionally, none of those 22 clinics provide mammograms or prenatal care for women, while the 162 non-abortion-providing clinics do.
This is why it only makes sense to finish the job of defunding abortion clinics in our state through AB183. The total amount of funds available for women’s health would not shrink but would become available to the 162 federally qualified health clinics and rural health clinics that are being deprived of dollars by Planned Parenthood. Since Planned Parenthood is a non-profit, surely they could provide no-cost or low-cost abortions through independent fundraising or grant-writing if their cause is so worthy. If they cannot raise the funds on their own, perhaps the validity of their work isn’t as just as portrayed.
In an era where the unthinkable becomes reality, NOW is the time for the Wisconsin legislature to be proactive. While our current governor may equate abortion with a tonsillectomy and says these bills are “not a productive use of time,” the public knows better. If we truly want healthy women and babies in this state, we must start with letting them have a safe, dignified arrival in the first place.
Barbara Dittrich (R-Oconomowoc) represents the 38th Assembly District.